Our Local Farm

IMG_1784Our weekly share of produce from Green Earth Institute farm.

From the right: winter onions, salad turnips, spinach, snap peas, lettuce, tatsoi (an Asian green), and… a beagle.

Green Earth Institute is just four miles from our house, in Naperville. It’s a 60-acre organic farm, complete with beautiful old stone farmhouse, and an island surrounded by subdivisions:


Steve Tiwald – or “Farmer Steve” – is a wonderful man, and former corporate manager who left that world to create the Institute. The last owner of the farm, Lenore McDonald, wanted her land to remain a FARM – not to become more yards and homes. She gave her land to the Conservation Foundation, who now leases it to Green Earth. Here’s her old house, now a learning center:


Green Earth provides shares to hundreds of families in the western suburbs, including us. I volunteered there a few times when I first moved out here. It was fun to relive the summer I spent working on an organic farm in Ohio the summer after I graduated from college. (I’ve written here about my love of farms before.)

I don’t buy organic food because I think it’s healthier or better-tasting. I buy it because I think it’s better for the soil, for air quality, and for the water table. I buy it because I don’t think all the chemicals we use on our food can be good for us, in the long run. And I pay a premium to subscribe to a CSA because I want to put my money where my mouth is, and because I like the variety (tatsoi!).

Still, I appreciate industrial agriculture because it feeds a lot of people. And large scale growers and farmers care about the land, just like organic farmers do – my husband’s family is in agriculture, and they care about the environment, too! Their company managers and analyzes soil and harvest data for their clients, to minimize pesticide and fertilizer use. Demonizing industrial agriculture seems short sighted and self-righteous to me. I hope both local growers and large-scale growers, of produce, grains, and meats (and yes, even Big Corn and Soybeans) will find ways for our food to be safer for the soil, air, and water, for the animals we eat, and for us.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to support Green Earth Institute – our local, organic farm – because I like having it as a neighbor out here in suburbia.